Wire Self Portrait

The 3D art class is working on a quick wire exercise. They are using photos from a variety of social media (Instagram, Facebook, etc.) or from a portrait session in my class room. They are using line to create space. These wire portraits will be displayed side by side with their acetate line drawings. This preliminary activity will help them build the skills necessary for our next project that deals with creating volume using reed and tissue paper.

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22 responses to “Wire Self Portrait

  1. Great Project! What kind of wire did you find worked best? Were they twisting the wire to attach cut pieces together, or was it a continuous line? Any pitfalls to look out for? I’m going to try this after an acetate line drawing I had planned this week with my grade nine art students!

    • I have taught it both ways. Sometimes I require a continuous line this time I let them choose their own gauge, color, and application. Pitfalls? Do you have a class set of pliers? I find that demonstrating how to connect two pieces and highlighting the fact that they should connect first then cut off extra. So often they trim first then try to attach and don’t have enough wire. Let me know how yours turn out!

  2. I am doing a demo class for a job interview with 8th graders, but I wasn’t sure how well it would work since this will be the first time I’m working with them (hopefully not the last!) – since they won’t have work from a previous session with me, was thinking of pairing it with contour drawing self-portrait as warm up, then using that underneath the acetate to build up from. Thoughts or suggestions? I have been out of the kids classroom for about 6 years and am nervous about diving back in! Thanks for any thoughts!

    • Blind contour drawing was a great warm up for this activity. We used objects in and around my room to get our observational skills working. Will you have mirrors available to you for your demo? If you don’t you could always use objects in the room. A stapler? A tape dispenser. Imagine the 3 dimensional work you could make with wire! You could always use images from a magazine too if you are without mirrors? Good luck with your interview and let me know how it goes!

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  4. I teach Art at a High School in North Carolina. I have used wire before for 3-D figures but never for a contour drawing. I was thinking about using this for our first lesson on Line and taking a picture of each student the first day of school. We would do contour drawings then wire portraits. Suggestions?

  5. Did you have a rubric or evaluation sheet for this project. I just did it with my beginner sculpture class and it was very good. Some students took right to it, others struggled, but I think it was worth it. Now we move on to volume!

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  7. Hello! I LOVE the look of this project and would like to try it with my grade eights! I don’t have much experience with wire so I hope you don’t mind that I have a few questions to get me started!… How big were the photos the kids used? 8.5×11? What gauge would you recommend for our first attempt? (That is most “workable” and still strong?) Other than pliers, are there other tools the students will need? To connect wires, do they just twist? Or is there a better system? Is it easiest to complete the portraits with one long piece (to avoid connecting) or is it best to recommend multiple pieces? Was the tape used to flatten the portraits – was that an issue? Lastly, is there a best place to start the wire “drawing”? (ex: eyes first…) THANKS very much in advance!

    • The photos were 8.5×11 which is a good size to keep them structurally sound. Make sure the face fills up the page. Some students printed a photo of themselves in a group. The contours were much too small.

      As far as wire, use whatever you have. I order a few different spools in varying gauges. I also use colored wire sometimes which can be purchased and sometimes donated by the phone company.

      You definitely need pliers, probably needle nose. You can get by with one pair for every two kids but having one for everyone is ideal. I also have a few wire cutters on hand. Sometimes kids get creative and use pencils or other tools to wrap the wire around and create shapes.

      Connecting wire can be tricky. Every year I have someone ask if they can just solder it together. I show a variety of techniques, wrapping, hinging, crimping. Then I leave it up to them to problem solve and figure out ways to keep it together. Some tape their wire to the acetate sheet. This can cause problems when they finally untape it. The tape creates a false sense of security.

      I have had students challenge themselves to make it with only one piece of wire. It’s quite a fun math problem to try and assess how much you will need. Most of the time I have them cut as they go.

      For the one line drawing they can start wherever. However I recommend them to start their wire in the same place that they started their drawing.

      Let me know if you have more questions.

  8. Love this, will be trying this this year with my first time teaching sculpture! Do you have a link to your rubric you mentioned in your comments and the follow up lesson consisting of wire and reed?

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